The Albany Shantymen have released a new album featuring live recordings of classic and self-written shanties, two years after they were swept up in the tide of “Shantytok” which saw the traditional songs became a viral sensation. The 15 self-described “craggy-looking bastards” that make up the Albany Shantymen are part of an international network of shanty singers who perform in pubs and at festivals across the globe, keeping alive the sea shanty tradition. The motley crew recorded their new album at the historic Albany Town Hall last year with a live audience in tow who can be heard cheering along behind the group’s soaring voices. Live at the Town Hall features a number of original songs written by the Shantymen’s members, which founder Gary “Grizz” Greenwald said fit in well with the traditional shanties on the album. “. . . A lot of the music we sing is traditional, and they can be 150 to 200-year-old songs that we sing, but it’s nice that seeded in amongst that are the songs that the people in the group have written,” Greenwald said. “And it’s not always immediately obvious which ones have been around for a long time, and which ones are written by the group. “And I think that’s quite nice, it’s sort of a compliment to this style of songwriting.” Some of the original songs on the album include Bastard Drunken Whalers, The Flensing Knife and Jolly Rolly Dinki Di. Another original, Sailors Die Quite Often, is written in the same vein as the viral sensation Dumb Ways to Die and details all the ways a sailor could meet their demise at sea. “(It includes) just all the unfortunate things that can happen to you working on a tall ship, but it’s quite lighthearted,” Greenwald said. “If you said to me, of the original songs that we’ve done as a group, which one would be picked up and sung by another shanty group and make its way around the world — and we’ve had a few groups around the world contact us to ask if they can sing songs that we do — I think this one will be popular.” The album also features a live rendition of The Wellerman, a shanty with New Zealand origins. A studio version of the song was released on the Shantymen’s 2020 album Are You With Me Lads? and saw them have a taste of hitting the big time. In late 2020, Scottish musician Nathan Evans posted a video of himself performing the same 19th-century shanty song on TikTok which quickly went viral, raking up millions of views and bringing sea shanties into the mainstream. The hype around the singing style put the Albany Shantymen in the spotlight and saw their recording of The Wellerman skyrocket in streams, where it now sits just shy of one million plays on Spotify alone. The wave of popularity included the group being interviewed on The Project and performing at the 2021 AFL Grand Final held in Perth, after a successful campaign for them to be involved. It even earnt them a mention on the pages of Rolling Stone when Evans name-dropped the Albany Shantymen’s recording of The Wellerman as inspiration for his viral version in an interview with the magazine. The Shantymen took the viral popularity of the music style in their stride, eschewing the impulse to capitalise on it to launch full-blown music careers in favour of continuing as they were — a group of mates who sing together in their spare time. Greenwald said there was a great benefit in the group bringing together men from all different walks of life to sing with each other. “I think it’s very well publicised that group singing is good for your mental health,” he said. “It’s really hard to get men to sing in choirs — anyone who’s involved in any sort of choir knows it’s always difficult to recruit men. “But I suppose what we do has a slightly different feel to it. “Traditionally, the working songs sung on tall ships were very masculine songs . . . I think men feel an affinity for this music in a way that they don’t for other styles of music. “Once people do it, I think they realise that there was a reason why years ago before the days of televisions and big screens in pubs watching sports, people used to get together and sing.” The friendships formed between the members over the years are central to the group, and Greenwald said they operate on a “friends first, music second” basis. Of the 15 current members, 10 have been there since their inception in 2016, and the process of adding a new member rests more on how they fit in as a mate than the quality of their voice. Greenwald said the benefits of group singing extend further than just for the Shantymen themselves. “When you go along and do something that makes you feel good, you get that rush of endorphins, you get the oxytocin, the feel-good hormones that you get in your brain,” he said. “It makes you want to do it again. “Quite often we’ll see young fellas come in, and they’re looking at us and thinking ‘Oh God’ — you can see them pulling faces at each other and they’re ready to laugh at us. “And then half an hour later, they’re stood there with a pint in their hands singing with us.” Their album release day last Friday coincided with the Shantymen performing at a Western Force game in Perth, which Greenwald hopes can contribute to getting the tradition of singing rugby songs to Australia. “Some of the most incredible experiences of my life have been standing in those (rugby) crowds,” he said. “And the experience of listening to Murrayfield (Stadium), absolutely packed to the rafters where all of those Scots fans were singing Flower of Scotland was just one of the most incredibly powerful things I’ve ever witnessed. “And we’re missing out on that in Australia.” For Greenwald, the group’s involvement in high-profile performances is the cherry on top of what they do, and not their focus. “Those little things come along once in a blue moon and the rest of the time we’re quite happy just singing in the pub,” Greenwald said. “And if the pub is full, that’s lovely. “But if the pub was empty, and we were still just stood with our mates having a sing, that would be lovely too because it’s just nice to be out with your friends doing something you enjoy.” Live at the Town Hall by the Albany Shantymen is out now on streaming platforms.